- Two potent turbocharged engines to choose from
- Sleek interior cabin styling
- Infotainment system has an easy user interface
- One of the best-driving cars in the segment
- Rear seat space is tight for the class
- Small trunk and no folding rear seats on the Quadrifoglio model
- Manual transmission not available for the U.Smarket
- Base-model seats lack comfort
The all-new Alfa Romeo Giulia storms into a class of formidable competitors from all over the world. This Italian-born luxury compact is likely to win over buyers who prioritize driving performance over rear seat legroom or trunk space. The interior is sleekly styled, although the knobs and controls lack high-quality heft. A lively turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the rear-wheel-drive base model, which is available with all-wheel drive. But it’s the high-performance biturbo V6-powered Quadrifoglio model that grabs our attention, and potentially the crown of sport compacts.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is all new for 2017.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The Giulia comes in three trims: a base model Giulia, midlevel Ti and high-performance Quadrifoglio. The base model and Ti come with a nice amount of standard equipment and are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (280 horsepower, 306 pound-feet of torque) with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available. The Ti trim has access to more sporty equipment packages that include items such as sport seats and active suspension, but it’s the Quadrifoglio that’s packed full of impressively fun things including a thrilling biturbo 2.9-liter V6 engine (505 hp, 443 lb-ft).
The base Giulia gets 17-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires and robust Brembo brakes. Bi-xenon projector headlights with LED daytime running lights, taillights and ambient lighting are standard, along with heated and power-folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, rear park assist sensors and a rear camera with dynamic guidelines. Convenience items include remote keyless entry with push-button ignition, leather seats with six-way power driver and front passenger adjustments (four-way lumbar adjustment), dual-zone climate control and cruise control. An acoustic laminated windshield and front door windows keep wind noise at bay, while the DNA drive mode controller lets you select from different modes that alter steering, transmission and accelerator characteristics. There is a 7-inch TFT info screen within the gauge cluster, a 6.5-inch radio screen with voice recognition, AM/FM/HD radio, Bluetooth, three USB ports (one charge only) and an eight-speaker audio system.
The packages available on the base model include a Sport Appearance package, which adds unique front and rear fascias, 18-inch wheels, gloss black window trim and painted brake calipers (red, black or yellow available). The Sport Interior package requires the above package and adds aluminum interior trim, fantastic-looking, column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters, a leather steering wheel and sport pedals. If you’re looking to upgrade the infotainment system, the Navigation package includes an 8.8-inch widescreen radio with 3-D GPS navigation, voice recognition, a rotary controller and satellite radio. A complement to this would be the 10-speaker Premium Audio package that includes a subwoofer and a 400-watt amplifier. A Cold Weather package is specific to the base model, adding heated seats and a heated steering wheel; other trims include those as standard.
There are two levels of active driving assist packages. The Driver Assistance package includes front park-assist sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto-dimming exterior mirrors. The Driver Assistance Dynamic package adds adaptive cruise control with full-stop capability, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, automatic high-beams and an infrared reflective windshield.
The Giulia Ti comes with everything the base model has, plus standard dark gray oak wood trim, the 8.8-inch widescreen radio (navigation is extra), 12 months of satellite radio, the aforementioned heated front seats and steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels and front park-assist sensors. Adaptive xenon headlights are a standalone option.
The packages for the Ti are structured a little differently. There are Sport packages that include a choice of wheel sizes along with everything from the above Sport packages and excellent sport leather seats (a worthy upgrade). The Lusso package includes 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels, luxury leather seats, leather-wrapped interior trim with accent stitching, an upgraded steering wheel, interior air quality system and a choice of genuine dark gray oak or light walnut wood trim. If you just wanted a leather interior, it’s available as a Leather package. The Ti Performance package provides a small step toward Quadrifoglio performance with an active suspension and mechanical limited-slip differential. And if you’d prefer the performance items without the Sport appearance items, there's the Ti Performance Plus package.
Lastly, with the Ti you can upgrade to the 900-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system, which includes 14 speakers, a subwoofer, two surround-sound speakers and a 12-channel amplifier.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is the star of this show, with its 505-horsepower, all-aluminum, direct-injected biturbo V6 engine as its main act. It, too, comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and features fuel-saving cylinder deactivation. Sadly, the six-speed manual available in Europe won’t be making it over to the U.S. at this time.
The Quadrifoglio’s standard equipment list is lengthy, which is good news for buyers. There’s the high-performance Brembo brake system and a torque-vectoring rear differential that can transfer 100 percent of available power to either rear wheel. A two-mode exhaust with bypass valves offers varying levels of engine music depending on your mood, and a carbon-fiber active front splitter adjusts for more aerodynamic downforce at speeds above 75 mph. An active suspension and 19-inch wheels with supersticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires round out the big hardware items.
Looking at the Quadrifoglio you’ll be able to pick out the aggressive model-specific details such as the front fascia, grille, carbon trunk spoiler, bi-xenon adaptive headlights and rear diffuser with quad exhaust tips. But beneath the painted surfaces hides a lightweight hood and roof made of carbon fiber.
Moving inside, carbon-fiber trim adorns a leather-wrapped interior. The Alfa DNA Pro Drive Mode Selector adds Race to the Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency settings, with Launch Control accessible in Race mode. Additional standard features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, column-mounted paddle shifters, an 8.8-inch widescreen navigation system, and excellent eight-way power-adjustable leather and simulated-suede performance front seats.
A few options are available at the Quadrifoglio level. They include the Driver Assistance Dynamic package mentioned earlier, leather and simulated-suede ultra-high-performance Sparco
carbon-fiber racing seats (driver and front-passenger seats with two-way and four-way power adjustments, respectively) and an ultra-high-performance Brembo carbon-ceramic brake system.
Your interior experience will vary greatly, depending on trim level. The type of seats make the biggest difference when it comes to driving position or getting in and out. We found the rear seat to be tight on legroom and all the controls lacking a little bit of quality heft we expect in the class.
Integration of the wide 8.8-inch touchscreen is very well done, and the controls, although slightly cheap-feeling, operate intuitively. We didn’t have any complaints regarding the base car’s stereo system, but the optional Harman Kardon system produces some fantastic sound.
Utility isn’t a strong suit of the Giulia, with the exception of the base and Ti trim’s split folding rear seats and easy-access car seat anchors (all trims). Small item storage within the cabin is limited, and trunk space is unimpressive.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The base-model Giulia's 2.0-liter turbo engine feels responsive and generates ample torque from low rpm. The Quadrifoglio's smooth-revving 2.9-liter biturbo V6 packs a beastly 505-hp punch, and Alfa says it's good for a sprint to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. It seems realistic based on our seat-of-pants feel.
Both eight-speed automatics shift quickly and react without delay when using the column-mounted paddles. In Dynamic or Race mode, up- and downshifts are tuned to deliver more kick, which elevates the drama to a degree. When upshifting in the wet, it's enough to break the Quadrifoglio's tires loose.
Alfa Romeo made some bold performance statements about the Giulia, and from what we've experienced so far, it appears Alfa followed through. Both Giulia and high-performance Quadrifoglio models boast strong engines for their respective segments, and all deliver an entertaining driving experience.
The ride quality with the active suspension in the Quadrifoglio is on the firmer side but offers a decent amount of comfort. The ride in the standard base Giulia is not exactly plush either and isn't adjustable (optional in Ti model), but it strikes a pretty good balance between sport and comfort.
Wet roads during our evaluation drive meant grip limits were reached much sooner than we'd have liked. But besides the generous torque from both Giulia's turbo engines making the rear tires want to spin freely, the Giulia didn't exhibit any bad habits. A virtually perfect balance of weight front to rear likely helps.